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Yorkshire 3 peaks challenge

Yorkshire's big three in 12 hours

  • What's involved
  • Pen-y-Ghent
  • Whernside
  • Ingleborough
  • Prices

Climbing the three highest peaks in Yorkshire, Pen-y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough - climbing about 1,600 metres (5,300 feet) and walking nearly 40km (23 miles) in the process!

Target time 12 hours

These hills are part of the Pennines and, apart from some boggy ground, involve fairly straight forward walking over easy terrain. The route is mostly, but not entirely, on good paths. It's the alternation of good, walkable limestone and grim bogs that give this walk its' peculiar flavour.

This is a long walk, with a considerable ascents and descents involved. it's not to be underestimated. Some people use this as a practice event for the National 3 peaks challenge which is fine, but the Yorkshire 3 peaks event is a worthy challenge in it's own right, particularly in poor weather conditions when it takes on a totally different character.

Tradition states participants should aim to complete the walk within 12 hours.There is no set start point for the Yorkshire 3 peaks event but most people start from Horton-in-Ribblesdale.

If you've chosen the fully supported option you'll arrive at your acomodation in Horton-in-Ribblesdale the night before the challenge.

The next morning, after introducing your guide(s) we have a safety briefing and, where necessary, split up into smaller groups (maximum 8:1 ratio), and distribute any necessary equipment etc.

Then it's off we go!

We walk the route in an anti-clockwide direction. The first hill we tackle is Pen y Ghent. At 694 metres it's the lowest of the3 peaks but with possbly the most interesting ascent.

The second of the 3 peaks is Whernside. This is the highest of the 3 peaks at 736 metres.

The last of the 3 peaks is Ingleborough, 724 metres high and the rockiest of the three summits. It's then back to the pub for some well earned refreshment!

The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority run a 'Friends of the 3 peaks' club for those completeing the 3 peaks challenge.

The National Park also have a '3 Peaks Project'.

To book tel: 07584 177506

e-mail: enquiries@bigwalks.com

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Pen y Ghent 694 metres (2,276 feet) above sea level

You'll climb 462 metres (1,515 feet)

You'll walk 5 km (3 miles)

We start our journey at Horton in Ribblesdale and head for the footpath behind the church which leads to the first of our 3 peaks, Pen y Ghent.

Peny Ghent the first of the Yorkshire 3 peaks

Pen y Ghent - first of the 3 peaks

Pen-y-ghent, like Ingleborough, is built up mainly of carboniferous limestone and millstone grit. The millstone grit cap rests upon the main limestone, followed by the limestones, sandstones and shales of the yoredale beds or series.

The three broad, bare "rakes" of Pen-y-ghent on its western face are its most famous feature and were shaped during a terrific thunderstorm in July 1881. The soil at the surface was washed down to a great depth whilst the river Ribble grew from an insignificant trickle to a mass torrent of more than twenty yards wide and twenty foot deep in under an hour.

Pen y Ghent first of the 3 peaks

Pen y Ghent looking back from the steep climb to the summit

The climb to the first of the 3 peaks starts off easy but steepens considerably on the final section below the summit where it becomes rocky and hands may be needed on accasions for balance.

The first 3 peaks summit - Pen y Ghent

Pen y Ghent summit sign post

On a clear day the view from the summit of all 3 peaks is magnificent. The view seems to go on forever and you can see almost the whole of your route around the 3 peaks. If the weather is unkind all 3 peaks can be extremely hostile places and you won't want to hang about!

We leave Pen y Ghent by crossing the wall stile on the summit and head down the steep West slope towards the next of our 3 peaks - Whernside. Very soon you realise why some describe the Yorkshire 3 peaks challenge as having it's own peculiar, grim, unique qualities! It's impossible to keep your feet dry on this section of the route as you try to negotiate and avoid the worst parts of the peat bogs. Some of these bogs will swallow you waist deep! Many thousands of pairs of boots have not helped the situation as the erosion is quite severe in places.

Avoiding peat bogs en route to the second of the 3 peaks

Trying to avoid the worst of the peat bogs en-route to the second of the 3 peaks

We eventually reach the car park on the B6255 where we re-supply and take on some much needed refreshments. There's often a mobile 'burger' van at this car park and it can be extremely busy during summer months (If you're doing an unsupported attempt of the 3 peaks, don't rely on it being there - bring your own food!).

Ribblehead viaduct below the next of the 3 peaks Whernside

Ribblehead Viaduct with the 2nd of the 3 peaks - Whernside, behind

From here you can clearly see the next of the 3 peaks - Whernside. Yo also get a good view of one of the most photographed pieces of Victorian railway architecture, the Ribblehead Viaduct.

Once refreshed we set off for the second of the 3 peaks, Whernside.

mob: 07584 177506

e-mail: enquiries@bigwalks.com

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Whernside 736 metres (2,415 feet) above sea level

You'll Climb 662 metres (2,130 feet)

You'll walk 18 km (10 miles)

Although Whernside, the 2nd of the 3 peaks, has a less dramatic millstone grit summit than its two siblings, it is the highest of the 3 peaks, standing at over 2,400 ft. It is often termed the 'roof' of Yorkshire and its long shallower slopes host a number of tributaries of Little Dale Beck and Winterscales Beck which in turn runs in parallel with West Fell southwards and eventually into the River Doe

This section of the route starts at probably the most photographed piece of Victorian railway architecture in the country, if not the world, the Ribblehead Viaduct. This forms part of the Settle to Carlisle railway line that, some years ago the government wanted to close stating the viaduct was in desperate need of repairs costiong millions of pounds. As a result of public pressure the government relented and repairs to the viaduct were made. The line is now a popular attraction for tourists from all over the world.

Ribblehead Viduct - stat of the route to the 2nd of the 3 peaks

Ribblehead Viaduct

We cross the main road from the car park and head directly for the Ribblehead Viaduct. The path follows the Viaduct and the railway line for a good distance, passing Blea Moor signal box half way along this section.

Ribblehead Viaduct the start of the 2nd of the 3 peaks

Ribblehead Viaduct, the start of the route to the 2nd of the 3 peaks Whernside

The path is easy going and it follows the railway line for about 3.5 km before crossing it via a bridge. This is where the ascent of the 2nd of the 3 peaks really starts. It's not particularly steep and has no technical difficulties but you've already climbed one of the 3 peaks and walked about 19km to get here so you may be feeling the effects of all that exercise!

Blea Moor signal box below the 2nd of the 3 peaks

Blea Moor signal box nestling below the 2nd of the 3 peaks

The lower part of the path passes by the waterfall of Force Gill and the gradient steepens as the path continues upwards towards the summit ridge.

Greensett Moss nestling on a shelf below the summit escarpment

Greensett Moss - nestling on a shelf below Whernside summit ridge

Once on the ridge it's an easy walk to the summit. The Ordnance Survey trig column is on the opposite side of the summit wall and you may not see it if you don't know it's there. Access to it is via a narrow (very narrow!) gap in the wall and provides a good photo opportunity.

Summit of the 2nd of the 3 peaks Whernside

Summit of Whernside the 2nd, and highest of the 3 peaks


View from Whernside summit of Ribblehead Viaduct and Pen t Ghent

View from Whernside summit back to Pen y Ghent

Our descent path from Whernside summit starts easliy enough but soon steepens and becomes quite rocky - care is needed on this section. We continue to follow an obvious track and eventually arrive at the B 6255 and our second 'pit stop' of the day for refreshments and re-supply before we tackle the 3rd and last of the 3 peaks - Ingleborough.

mob: 07584 177506

e-mail: enquiries@bigwalks.com

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Ingleborough 724 metres (2,372 feet) above sea level

You'll climb 497 metres (1,525 feet)

You'll walk 16 km (10 miles)

Ingleborough has a cap of of millstone grit, followed by alternating layers of shales, limestones and sandstones of the yoredale beds which form the slopes. The great scar limestone forms the main mass of ingleborough, under which is the askrigg block - the uplifted land along the south craven fault. The surface limestone offers one of the best examples of upland limestone pavements in theUK, particularly around Southerscales scars to the west.

Around the top of the summit, which is nearly a mile in circumference, the ancient Britains, the Brigantes, built a 3000ft long stone rampart out of millstone grit, which has since collapsed. There were three entrances in the northern, eastern and south-western sides of the wall. Within this enclosure are the remains of the foundations of a number of circular stone huts usually with south facing entrances.

It was probably built during the first century ad, when the area was under attack from the romans who were determined to subject the area to their rule.

Ingleborough 3rd of the 3 peaks

Ingleborough the 3rd of the 3 peaks

Once re-supplied and refreshed after the 2nd of the 3 peaks we now tackle Ingleborough. We cross the main road and head for a small wall stile just after the pub on the opposite side of the road. We cross open farmland and pass by Braithwaite Wife Hole - a hugh hole in the ground. This is limestone country and the area is littered with features such as this.

The path to Ingleborough 3rd of the 3 peaks

The paved path to the last of the 3 peaks

The route goes over some boggy ground but fortunately large paving type blocks have been laid so we keep our feet dry on this occassion! At the end of this section we arrive at the steepest part of this route and ascend a rock stairway until we arrive at the col between Ingleborough and Simon Fell.

Ingleborough rock stairway

The rock stairway - steepest part of the route to the last of the 3 peaks

There's one more final effort required after the col and then we arrive on the summit plateau.

Final pull to Igleboroughs summit plateau

Final effort of the 3rd of the 3 peaks

The final pull before Ingleborough's summit plateau

The summit plateaue of Ingleborough is a stoney, desolate place and can be extremely confusing in mist.

Ingleborough summit plateau. Celebrate you've climbed all of the 3 peaks

Ingleborough summit plateau - celebrate, you've climbed all 3 peaks!

Ingleborough summit shelter

Ingleborough summit shelter

Now celebrate - you've succeeded in climbing all 3 peaks - the Yorkshire 3 peaks challenge! All that's left now is to get back down!

Our route back down is a gently graded track, but a long one! We eventually arrive back at our starting point in Horton in Ribblesdale where we can celebrate our success in one of the two pubs in the village.

mob: 07584 177506

e-mail: enquiries@bigwalks.com

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Please contact us for further details and prices.

mob: 07584 177506

e-mail: enquiries@bigwalks.com